Gryphon rugby men to go for bronze
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons will battle for bronze Sunday at the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship Tournament at Alumni Stadium.
The Gryphs and the Victoria Vikes battled to an 11-11 standoff in the final game of the tournament’s preliminary pool play Saturday afternoon as the Vikes scored their try on the final play of the game.
“We’re disappointed in not moving forward, but not disappointed in the result per se and not disappointed in the effort,” Gryphon coach Cory Hector said. “The boys left everything out there and it is what it is.”
As there’s no overtime in the preliminary round, the tie stood and the Vikes and Gryphs were deadlocked for first in their pool with a win and a tie apiece. The tie was broken using the previous results of the tournament which meant looking solely at the final score each team had in their match with the pool’s weak sister, the UPEI Panthers.
The Gryphons beat the Panthers 66-0 on the opening day Thursday, but that was taking it easy on UPEI as Victoria prevailed 95-0 Friday and that win gave the Vikes a spot in Sunday’s 1 p.m. final.
“You never really consider it happening, but of course we should have because we’ve been in this situation before where we ended a game in a tie,” Hector said. “Maybe had we thought about it more, we might have tried to put more on. Whatever.”
Of course, continuing to score and score and score against a team isn’t an easy thing to do because it’s usually a game where you can give players who don’t usually see much game action some time on the field.
“With a tournament format that’s what it is and what you have to do,” Hector said. “We probably should have tried to get more points here (against Victoria) as opposed to against UPEI.”
The gold-medal match will be an all-B.C. affair as the UBC Thunderbirds grabbed the other berth with a 38-6 win over the McMaster Marauders
The bronze-medal game will be an all-Ontario match with the Gryphs taking on McMaster at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
The Gryphs defeated McMaster twice during OUA play as they won 21-15 at Hamilton Sept. 17 during the regular season and 26-18 at Varsity Field Oct. 20 in the OUA semifinals.
“It’ll be a different team (Sunday) I suspect,” Hector said. “That’ll be OK because we have a lot of young guys that weren’t in the lineup today or didn’t get on the field today that will get a chance (Sunday). At the end of the day, we’re playing for a bronze medal at the national championships but we’re also playing for next year so some guys will get some valuable minutes that they might not otherwise have got.”
UBC and Victoria are actually partway through their B.C. Premiership season that stretches from late August to the beginning of May. UBC defeated Victoria 44-24 at Victoria in their first of two Wightman Boot competition in league play Sept. 23. They’re also to meet Jan. 27, 2018, at Vancouver.
Guelph 11 Victoria 11
The second half of the game played in a mist was primarily played in Guelph’s end, but the Gryphs kept the Vikes out until a final surge on the final play of the match.
“We knew we had to get out of our end and, unfortunately, we played too many phases in our own end and against a good team like that, they’re going to get there,” Hector said. “I thought we got away with it a few times, but it was just one time too many.”
The Vikes wore the Gryphs down in the hard-hitting contest that saw players on both sides leave the game after knocking heads together.
“They made stop after stop after stop,” Hector said. “You can only do that for so long. Playing defence is definitely more tiring than playing offence and when it came down to it, we’d probably been playing 27 minutes of defence (in a 30-minute half) and they might’ve had a little bit left in the tank and we didn’t and that might have been the difference. Full credit to them. They kept it on and they kept going and they kept going to it and they finally broke through it.”
The game will go down as one of the classic matches in Gryphon rugby history along with the 2016 OUA final that the Gryphs won over the Queen’s Gaels in penalty kicks.
The Gryphs had led Victoria 8-3 late in the first half and 11-6 five minutes into the second half.
Erich Milne scored Guelph’s try in the first half while John Sheridan had two penalty kicks.
Tyler Wong scored the tying try for the Vikes while Graydn Bowd had two penalty kicks.
UBC 38 McMaster 6
The Thunderbirds scored two tries in the final three minutes of the first half to break the game open.
Those two tries were among the final four tries of the match, all scored by UBC.
Theo Sauder scored two tries, a penalty kick and five conversions for the Thunderbirds while Mike Smith, Clint Lemkus and Nick Allen each had one try.
Will Kelly had two penalty kicks for McMaster.